Women in football

If there is something better than one woman’s fight for glory, it is eleven women fighting for glory as a team.  Although evidence of a football like game dates back to 5000BC, modern football as we know today came about much later in England circa 1850.  

The British Ladies Football Club North Team in 1895. Mrs Grahams XI are believed to be the first official women's football team in the UK and were set up by Helen Mathews who played under the pseudo name Mrs Graham in 1881. See SWNS story SWWOMEN; When women were battling to win the vote they knew exactly how to do it -- form the UK's first football team. Pioneering girls in Stirling stripped off their corsets and took to the pitch in an effort to change history. The team was set up alongside the Women's Rights movement in 1881 and experts believe the team directly helped women win the local government vote in Scotland by causing a stir on the football pitch in their revealing bloomers and blouses. The historic information was gathered by football historian Stuart Gibbs, 47, while completing an art exhibition called Moving the Goals Posts, which is touring the country.
The British Ladies Football Club North Team in 1895. Mrs Grahams XI are believed to be the first official women’s football team in the UK and were set up by Helen Mathews who played under the pseudo name Mrs Graham in 1881. (source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Women’s participation in the sport took even longer due to a lack of gender equality and the perceived “masculinity” of the sport.  Following the huge societal changes during the post World War I and the increased space for women to participate in typically male dominated activities, women finally took to pitch.  Improvement in women’s football however, was not fast.  Problems with equal pay and equal space in the sporting world still exist and continue to hinder women’s football.  Despite the obstacles, women’s football continues to grow and there are now 176 national women football teams around the globe.

Women Playing Football – Origin

World War I brought misery for the entire world.  It took a lot of aspects of humanity from world but it also paved the way for some revolutionary movements.  It is interesting to see that women’s football had its first sparkle during World War I.  Thanks to heavy industry in England, sports and especially football, were very well known throughout the entire island.  The first match on record was played between a team from London against one from Scotland.  The final score of this match was 22-0, with England taking the victory.

After this period, the Football Association banned women playing football, in association’s owners’ pitches, claiming that: “matches are distasteful and unattractive.”  Despite this opposition, women kept playing football in rugby fields and the sport grew. Read more

Onar Photo Contest 2017

ONAR decided to launch “The Strength of Women in Turkey” photo contest in February 2017 as a way to promote women’s empowerment through the art of photography. We decided to focus on women living in Turkey, both Turkish and foreigners, to celebrate all the women living in the country and contributing to Turkish society.

The 12 photos we selected represent different faces of the strength of women in Turkey. As a coincidence, most of the authors of the selected photos are also women.

The winning photo, entitled “Jump”, with lightness shows a woman strong enough to jump in the light away from a shadow that seems to want to hold her back. Second place went to “Tea worker”, which shows the strength of a young woman and the grace she puts in the exhausting work she does. The third place went to “On Galata bridge”, which shows a woman off the beaten track as she does a typical male activity in Turkey.  A honorable mention went to “Not public property”, which touches upon the issue of virginity in Turkey. All the selected photos capture the pride of women in being exactly who they are. We believe that difference is a sign of strength. The women photographed, with their happy and serious faces, their aware presence in society, their focus in their work, give a sense of the strength of women not just in Turkey, but everywhere in the world.

 Written by Irene Campari

En/Gendering Foreign Policy at Kadir Has University

Second part panelI must say that when my alarm rang at 7:30 this morning I wanted to go back to sleep. I always think some how that it won’t matter if I attend the En/Gendering Foreign Policy conference that I saw on Facebook the night before. I’m just a regular person. It doesn’t matter if I go or not.  But I told myself, you should go. It can’t be that bad. And so I went.

The event was held at Kadir Has University  and was open to public which  is a rare feat. It discussed Gendering Foreign Policy and started at 9:30 in the morning.  Unfortunately  I arrived late  and missed the Welcoming remarks of and  comments of Nadezhda Neynsky , Ambassador for the Republic of Bulgaria. But never mind what I missed, let’s concentrate on the ones I had the honor to witness their passion for Gender equality. Read more

Despite all prejudices


Homosexuality is not against the law in Turkey, yet most homosexuals live in the closet. LGBT people face discrimination and harassment within the family, at work and in society at large. After years of important steps forward, the LGBT community is being affected by the systematic silencing of all those who are considered “others” because they don’t conform to traditional values.

Sedef Çakmak is so far the first and only openly gay politician elected to a position in Turkey. She has been an LGBT activist since 2004. After the Gezi protests, she decided it was time for LGBT people to be in politics with their open LGBT identities, so she became a candidate for the main opposition party, the CHP, in the 2014 local elections and was elected as a council member for the Beşiktaş Municipality in Istanbul. Sedef believes that she would have never been elected, had there not been the Gezi movement. The first thing that she did as a council member was to establish an equality unit within the municipality to build strategies for all minorities, not just the LGBT one, to make sure that they are represented in the municipality and in society. Thanks to the example set by the Beşiktaş  Municipality, there are now equality units in various municipalities in Istanbul and even in Bursa. Read more

Onar Istanbul Opening Night: A New Season for Women

onar-opening-night-programAnd here we are. Our 3rd season is just about to start.

How many people we met so far in our journey, so many incredible women, brave, talented, supportive, strong, in love with Istanbul and with life.
We helped each other, we discussed, we learned, we failed and we learned even more, we built and we dreamt together.

And let’s not forget about the incredible men who are supporting us, working with us to create awareness around, being the example for other men.
We are so lucky.

Onar was  born in 2013 and officially became a Turkish NGO in 2014.
We were so lucky.  Since the beginning, so many people supported and helped us a lot.
Collaboration is the key, collaboration has been always the key!

Onar means two different things in Turkish. On one hand it means: fix It! Yes, you got it, we are all responsible for the world where we live and we all have to take action.
On the other hand it means: that pomegranate, that in Turkish is nar. Pomegranate represents perfectly women, with their blood and seeds, passion, and life itself.
Women are the key for the cultural and economical resolution that currently affects the world.
A woman is unstoppable after she unlocks her potential, because she realizes she deserves better.

Empower women, empower the world! This is our motto! (watch the video we created for our  Raise Your Woice event  here)

Every year we try to raise the level of our performance. We are aiming to reach more women and men in our awareness and prevention trainings. We aim to involve more students in the cause investing on them. We aim to have more resources in order to help more women in need. We aim to inspire as much women as we can. We aim to actively involve  more men willing to collaborate with us. We aim to become a bigger team. We aim to realize all the dreams and plans we have. We want to have  an impact and make the difference.

Now we are just waiting for you! Come and join us for our opening night on Sunday, October 9th at 6.30 pm Impact Hub Istanbul ( Yeşilce Mah. Emirşah Sok. No: 21 Kağıthane, Sanayi Metro Station).
 Check out the program and register here.

Good luck to us,
for a new season,
for a new era for women,
for a better world.

Martina Pavone

Co-founder & President
Onar Istanbul
Yabancı Uyruklu Kadınları
Destekleme Derneği



The power of words

Istanbul Literature Festival
Source: Italian Cultural Center

On May 10th, the Italian Cultural Institute  hosted a lecture of the 8th Edition of the Istanbul Tanpinar Edebyat Festivali (The Eight Edition of the Istanbul Literature Festival). The participants were Asli Perker, the Turkish author  of “Souffle”, book that was a best seller in Turkey and has been translated in English and Michela Murgia*, an Italian writer invited also to celebrate the translation of her last book “Acabbadora” in Turkish. Moderated by Sibel Oral, the two writers had the chance to meet for the first time and discuss the female voice in literature. Read more

Raise your Potential, Raise your Woice

A self-empowerment guide for women to raise their potential

Let’sgenderroles_onar not start from far away.
Women represent half of the world’s population and 60% of university graduates.
Women represent the largest emerging market on the planet.
In more than 40 nations we lose 15% of potential earnings because of the gender wage gap.
So, what are we waiting for? Women are the key for a cultural and economic crisis resolution.
So what are YOU waiting for? Read more

Storytelling Workshop: “Being a traveller, being an expat, being a woman”

“Being a traveller, being an expat, being a woman” storytellingGreat inspiring night yesterday, Wednesday 4th May at Nazım Hikmet Kültür Merkezi in Kadıköy for the storytelling workshop “Being a traveller, being an expat, being a woman”.

Women from Turkey, Italy, Germany, Russia, Lithuania gathered to discuss their experiences as traveller and expats in different parts of the world.

After a brief presentation, we brainstormed about the differences and similarities between being an expat and a traveller. It was very interesting to see that each of us used different words to describe the same concepts.
Read more

Being a solo female traveller and serial expat

Solo female traveller and expat

I love travelling and I love travelling by myself. I lived in Italy, Spain, Australia, Cambodia and now Istanbul. Living in a foreign country as a woman has been a completely different experience every time.

Spain was very similar to my country, Italy. The language is not hard to learn and to understand, people are very friendly, and habits are pretty much the same. It was tough because it was my first experience as an expat abroad, I was 24 and I didn’t know anyone but I always felt at my ease and safe at any time in Madrid. Never had a problem going running in the park or coming back late at night. Read more